Gandalf’s Scream, Love, and Why We Need More Anger

Anger is a wonderful, powerful, amazing, informative, life-giving, protective resource. Or at least it can be. Anger can be a redemptive sword, when it’s wielded by love.

 “Anger is a surgical weapon, designed to destroy ugliness and restore beauty. In the hands of one who is trained in love and who can envision beauty, the knife of righteous anger is a weapon for restoration.” – Allender & Longman

We’ve too often seen anger as the enemy, while all along it was begging to be our teacher. We’ve loved to pray and sing emotional ballads like, “Break my heart for what breaks yours,” but have we dared to sing, “Enrage my heart for what enrages yours”?

That sounds crazy, right? And scary.

As Christians, as cross-cultural workers, we’re way more comfortable with holy sadness than holy anger. And that’s not without cause; sadness is safer. More tame. Anger can destroy. Anger can harm deeply. Anger is like electricity — or fire. Both have tremendous potential to destroy, and even kill. But they also reveal, energize (literally), and make magic.

Have you flown on the fire of a jet engine, propelled through the night sky like a populated comet? Have you ever activated a dozen tiny suns with the flip of a switch? These miracles are astounding, and possible due to the power of white-hot fire and lightning fast electrons flowing on demand.

To be sure, arsons exist, but so do steel magnates. They both harness fire for their own purposes; one to destroy, the other to build. I’ve seen the burns and tissue damage wreaked by a lightning strike, but I don’t scream and run away every time I see an outlet.

Again, anger is just energy. It’s an emotion, neither good nor bad, neither healthy nor dysfunctional.

“Feelings are information, not conclusions.” – Greenberg

“Feeling angry or annoyed is as human as feeling sad or afraid.” – Greenberg

We have to be careful, at the start, that we don’t moralize some emotions as good, others as bad, some as holy, others as sinful. That’s not accurate, spiritually or scientifically. [See The Gaping Hole in Modern Missions.]

It’s also important to distinguish between the feeling of anger and the actions of aggression. The two are not the same thing. Greenberg offers this helpful reminder:

“Anger should not be confused with aggression, which comprises attacking or assaultive behavior. Feeling angry does not mean behaving aggressively, and people can be aggressive without feeling any anger at all.” – Greenberg

Chances are you’ve been hurt by someone who acted aggressively. Perhaps their anger/aggression left wounds you’re still recovering from. Chances are you’ve hurt someone in similar ways. So I understand if all this talk about the goodness of anger feels like bile in the brain.

In my ministry as a pastoral counselor in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I hear all the stories. I hear terrifying stories and sad stories. I hear stories that make me livid and stories that make me hug my kids a little tighter.

Early on, I assumed that my main job was to help angry people feel their sadness. After all, I feel sadness early and often; it’s my default setting, and it’s easy. But now I realize that just as often, my job is to help sad people feel their anger.

Accessing the motivating, informative energy of anger has been pivotal in my own journey of healing. It has propelled me to have HARD conversations, it has steeled me for necessary conflict, and it has helped me surface on the other side, grateful. I am grateful for the gift of anger; without it, I fear I would have gotten stuck in my own depressive hole.

I used to think that anger and love were separate things, but now I realize that anger can be separate from love, but it doesn’t have to be. Anger is sometimes the energizing force that results from violated love.

In his book on extra-marital affairs, pastor and clinical counselor David Carder goes so far as to say that the partner who was cheated on MUST get angry:

The language of anger is never pleasant; however, it is not only OK to say it with intensity and force, but it is absolutely necessary for true recovery to occur. People do not get better until they get mad.” – Carder

 

Anger as a Sword (that we desperately need)
Tolkien understood the strategic use of anger, and when the Fellowship needed salvation, he gave it to them, in the form of a furious wizard. When faced with an ancient evil from the deepest shadows, the men, hobbits, dwarf, and elf fled for their lives. There was no escape until an old man with wisdom and anger stood firm.

The scene unfolds on a bridge under the mountains, with enemy hordes on one side, the Fellowship on the other:

“The Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring [his sword] gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm.

You cannot pass,‘ he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. ‘I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.

The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.

From out of the shadow a red sword leaped flaming.

Glamdring glittered white in answer.

There was a ringing clash and a stab of white fire. The Balrog fell back and its sword flew up in molten fragments. The wizard swayed on the bridge, stepped back a pace, and then again stood still.

You cannot pass!‘ he said.

With a bound the Balrog leaped full upon the bridge. Its whip whirled and hissed.”

In the film, the emotion of the scene overwhelms. Gandalf stands between the darkness and his charges. He is fighting with all his might, not for his own honor or power or kingdom; he is fighting for his friends.

He looks back at his friends, slowly and compassionately, fully aware of what he must do. He raises his staff and sword, slams them into stone, and screams at the fiery evil, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

At that point,

“A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog’s feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into emptiness.”

Oh that more leaders would have the courage to stand firm, full of love and anger, willing to protect the helpless, and to speak to the Shadow!

These are the times when we need the sword of anger. What a dangerous shame to reach that point, to need the power of a bright sword, and to leave it in its scabbard. Anger is the sword that we keep sheathed because we have no idea how to wield it. We’ve only seen people hurt by it. But if we could figure out how to use it, to wield it sparingly, but well, we might realize how much good it could do.

When we lose access to flaming, holy anger, we lose access to so much. We need a revolution in how we as the Church think about, talk about, and experience anger.

“Righteous anger warns, invites change, and wounds. True anger is paradoxical in that it has the strength to inflict pain, but it burns with the desire for reconciliation. It is bold, but it is also broken.” – Allender & Longman

What if we used anger to protect, not to control? With the aim of blessing and restoring relationships, not for revenge? What if anger were an expression of solid love, not malice or contempt?

“[Righteous anger] wounds for the greater work of redemption. It is full of a strength that is neither defensive nor vindictive, and it is permeated by a sadness that is rich in desire and hope.” – Allender & Longman

 

Our Incompetence Damages People (and the Church)
We don’t know how to wield anger, and we can’t fathom that someone else might. So we run away from it, we bury it, we criticize it. But just like outlawed grief, outlawed anger is dangerous.

“Anger that is driven underground eventually bursts out in uncontrollable and destructive ways.” – Greenberg

When you cancel out anger (your own or others’), you rob yourself of vital information. Information that could help you to see a situation or respond to a situation. Instead of denying or blocking anger, we need to get curious about it. What is hurting? When did it start hurting? As Greenberg says, we “should not be too afraid of receiving its message.”

“Each time people control or cut off a significant experience of anger, they not only cut themselves off from important information from within, but they also cut themselves off from others.” – Greenberg

Failing to give space for anger is terribly invalidating, and unloving.

“Invalidation of a person’s most basic feelings is one of the most psychologically damaging things one person can do to another.” – Greenberg

What would have happened if someone in those Catholic dioceses had felt a burning against the injustice of child abuse? Imagine if some leader somewhere would have pulled a sword on those pedophiles and screamed, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

It should not have taken an investigative journalist. It should not have taken decades.

What if someone at USA Gymnastics had heard about Larry Nassar’s perverse, ongoing sexual assaults of its gymnasts and, with fire in their bones, done whatever was necessary to communicate: “NOT ON MY WATCH!”

I’m so grateful for Rachael Denhollander and her tremendous courage as a survivor, to protest and advocate. But it shouldn’t have had to be her. It should have been some adult years earlier who got angry, and in their anger, determined to protect young women instead of an organization.

Gary Thomas, theologian and author, recently penned a powerful article about the church’s complicity in domestic violence in Christian marriages. The title of his article? “Enough is Enough.” He might as well have called it, “You Shall Not Pass!”

Calling on church leaders to stand with wounded women, to stand against abusive men, Thomas writes:

“Christian leaders and friends, we have to see that some evil men are using their wives’ Christian guilt and our teaching about the sanctity of marriage as a weapon to keep harming them. I can’t help feeling that if more women started saying, ‘This is over’ and were backed up by a church that enabled them to escape instead of enabling the abuse to continue, other men in the church, tempted toward the same behavior, might finally wake up and change their ways.”

Anger is present in our churches. Anger exists in our missions. But our anger is usually aimed at the people who are upsetting the status quo, threatening the “way things are,” and calling evil things by their true name.

But what if, instead, we were energized by a blazing love to protect the vulnerable, to defend the weak and the powerless?

What would that look like?

It would look like Gandalf, fire in his eyes, standing alone and sacrificing himself to save his friends.

It would look other worldly, because it is. It would look like the Kingdom of God among us, flipping the world upside down, giving honor to the weak, protecting the throw-aways.

It would look like the Church caring about the children on the outside.

It might look like offended religious men, sitting around a table trying to figure out how to solve this “problem.”

It would look like Bonhoeffer, or Martin Luther King, Jr., or Martin Luther.

It would look like Paul, defending the magisterial beauty of grace.

It would look like a pastor calling the police as soon as he hears about abuse, refusing to keep things “in house.”

It would look bright, shimmering. It would look like hope to those bound in the darkness; a glimpse of the rising sun.

But to those who thrive in the shadows (religious or otherwise), it would terrify, reminding them that their reign will end. Justice shall be King.

It would look like all these things and more, for

It would look like Jesus.

 

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Torn Asunder, David Carder

Enough is Enough, Gary Thomas

The Cry of the Soul: How Our Emotions Reveal Our Deepest Questions About God, Dan Allender and Tremper Longman

Emotion-Focused Therapy: Coaching Clients to Work Through Their Feelings, Leslie Greenberg

The Gaping Hole in Modern Missions

A Prayer of Repentance

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To the women and girls of New Tribes Mission*

Lord, we repent for the sins against children. We repent for having ears that were deaf and eyes that were blind. We repent for the loss of innocence and beauty – things that were stolen from children molested in the dark of night. We weep for the damage to body, mind, and soul that these children, now women, sustained. We mourn for what was taken from them.

Lord, we repent for systems that allowed this to happen. We cry out for justice and we beg for healing for those whose lives bear the scars of abuse.

We pledge to never let this happen again. We commit to screening, to predeparture counseling, to hiring professionals that are trained to see warning signs. We commit to rigorous systems of accountability, to immediately believing the child who comes to us, to facing uncomfortable truth. We commit to changing systems that perpetuate abuse, to supporting victims throughout their lives, to holding and healing hurt children.

We commit to having our eyes wide open to abuse and injustice in all its forms, to having ears that hear beyond mere words. We commit to loving truth and hating and exposing lies. We commit to the hard work of change.

We confess and repent that we have viewed “ministry” as a god, as an idol that must be broken; that we have upheld the reputation of men and women and ministry as more important than the protection of children.

We beg you to pour your love and grace over the wounded ones. Honor their courage. Honor their humility. Honor their grace.

We repent. We confess. We fall on our knees before you in humility. 

May we be people who do justly, who love mercy, who walk humbly. May we be people whose love for God extends first to our children in holy honor and protection.

Lord, we repent. Lord, please forgive. Hear our prayer oh Lord. 


Author’s note: Like many of you, I read the story and watched short video clips about the abuse of children through New Tribes Mission. Like many of you, I was overcome with grief and anger. This is my response.

For articles from this community on abuse and responding to abuse please click here.

*Disclaimer: The author has no connection either from the past or present with New Tribes Mission or Ethnos360.

One thing we get terribly wrong in our response to abuse. And one way to get it right.

Someone alleges abuse.

Someone in power rushes to hush or silence the accuser, sometimes even using Scriptures or “biblical principles” as the gag.

And it’s so wrong.

It’s poison, offered as cure, both to the victim and those close by.

But there’s an idea I’ve been developing that just might be an antidote. At least it has been for some, inoculating them and giving them words. And words are powerful.

I call it The Three Spheres of Offense, and when a church or organization forgets about these three spheres, it’s nearly impossible to respond to allegations of abuse in a healthy way.

Originally, two things made me nervous to write this article: 1) These issues deal with very painful realities, both mine and others, and 2) The ideas in The Three Spheres seem so simplistic.

But here we are.

About a month ago, I made a Facebook Live video on this topic, and whatever uncertainty I had about the importance of this message vanished. The responses and private messages I received were real, they were honest, and they were empowering. So here it is:

Basically, whenever there is abuse, there is one action (or one series of actions), but there are three impacts. In other words, for every offense, there are three distinct entities that endure the offense. Those entities occupy the three spheres.

When a church or an organization forgets these three distinct spheres, it can’t respond to the accuser/survivor correctly.

You see, the entity within each sphere has a God-given right to respond to the perpetrator.

  • The offense against God is sin, and God retains the right to respond to that offense.
  • The offense against the victim is abuse or harm, and the victim has a God-given right to respond.
  • The offense against the community or society is a crime, and society has a God-given right to prosecute and adjudicate.

This is the oft-forgotten sphere.

We believe, as a community, that some behavior is wrong. As a society, we’ve decided that this type of action is harmful to us collectively, and that regardless of what the victim wants, the prosecutor gets to choose to prosecute, and if he or she so chooses, they are a representative of the offended society. That’s how we get “The People of the State of Illinois vs. John Doe.” Or “The United States of America vs. John Doe.”

 

Stop the Robbing
When a church or ministry forgets that the society at large has a right to respond, or when an organization hides information from authorities, or shelters abusers, we slap our communities in the face. We rob them of their right to respond.

Maybe God’s forgiven the perpetrator and they’re now doing fantastic ministry. Great.

Maybe the survivor’s forgiven the perpetrator and has been totally healed of all damage and never even thinks about it. OK, fine.

But that’s not the end of the story: Society still gets to respond. No matter what the church leadership thinks, no matter how “rehabilitated” the abuser seems, no matter how repentant and contrite, society still gets to respond.

And when a community finds out that we’ve hidden abuse, they rightfully despise us, and we look like fools. Because we are fools.

When a church or ministry forgets the third sphere, hiding and “forgiving” unilaterally, it does massive damage to society, which is not a “loving your neighbor” thing to do. At all.

 

Cross-Cultural Considerations
What if you’re living abroad, where reporting abuse is often more complicated? What if the offender might face harsher punishment than he or she would in their passport country? What if you don’t think your host country has an adequate justice system?

These are crucial things to consider.

But we must be very careful here. What are we saying if we hide an American’s crimes from the local government when the crimes were committed in our host country? What if the victims are citizens of our host country?

Are we saying that we believe in following the law so long as we agree with it? Are we denying the local government the right to adjudicate their own way?

We are in danger here of sending a damning and very disrespectful message: “our people” deserve better than “their people.” Would we report similar behavior to local authorities if it were committed by a national?

If we’re not careful, our hubris will show, with damaging results. And once again we must ask: are we acting in a loving, Christ-like manner?

 

While You’re Here
I’ve written some about how my parents responded when I told them that I had been abused. You can read that article here. Here are some of the main points:

1. The idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty is great and helpful and very important in a court of law. It is not so great in churches or organizations.

If the gut response of the church or organization is to defend the accused, if that’s the default setting, there’s a very real risk that the least powerful, most marginalized, most hurting, people will be ignored.

Again, “innocent until proven guilty” is a solid principle for criminal courtrooms, but it really sucks in living rooms and board rooms.

2. False accusations are much less common than true allegations. If you think that the majority of abuse allegations are concocted, you’re wrong.

3. Allegations are often unbelievable. Abusers are often known and usually respected. Unfortunately, that’s how the abuse goes on for so long. It’s not typically the outlying weirdo that everyone avoids, it’s a person with authority and power that people want to love and protect. It’s someone who, if he or she “falls,” would leave a hole in the organization or ministry.

 

More Like Christ
Too often, in a rush to defend the accused, we’re not much like Christ. We need to listen to the accusers, the victims, the survivors.

That does not mean that we throw the accused under the bus. It just means that our posture towards the victim is one of listening and hearing and believing, not disbelief, distance, and doubt.

I pray that our posture would be Christ-like, standing in between the powerful and the abused. Too often, we flip that on its head, landing on the side of the powerful person who already has a voice, who already has the stage. We need to bend down, to be next to the person who is saying, “I’m hurting.”

This is my prayer.

— Jonathan Trotter

 

Resources
Sexual Abuse on the Mission Field

Telling my Story: Sexual Abuse on the Mission Field

Ask a Counselor: What about child abuse?

 

Here’s the original video where I discussed these ideas:

Out of Darkness into Glorious Light

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Every day I ride the subway line into the city of Boston. It’s a short ride, going from Central Square in Cambridge to the busy Park Street stop just off the Boston Commons. At one segment in that short ride we come out from the deep underground of the city and we are above ground overlooking the Charles River, the city of Cambridge on one side, the city of Boston on the other. It is glorious to come out of darkness into the light of the day. It never gets old.

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In the quiet night the girl lies alone. She can hear the breathing of five others in the boarding school dormitory room where she lies. All of her roommates have been asleep for a long time.

They don’t know she is awake. They don’t know that every night she wakes in a panic, a scream just ready to break the silence. That it takes her a moment to calm, to realize she is not being attacked – she is safe with 5 other girls, all of them young teens. She cries out to a far away God, desperate to reclaim the innocence of her faith from before the attack, desperate for some measure of comfort.

The man who violated her is a respected member of the missionary community in the city where her parents work. He is a household name; a frequent household guest.

No one would ever believe her — a 14-year-old teen who is known for her sparkling personality; her love for the dramatic. She physically wards off the panic and the tears by folding her arms tightly across her chest, feeling the warm flannel of her pajamas. It’s in the early hours of dawn when she finally falls back into a dreamless sleep.

In another room and building a little boy has just woken up in tears. He has wet the bed. He cannot let the other know. The other missionary kids are white – and he is not. He is subject to sometimes merciless bullying – and no one stops it.

He curls into a ball. How can he change his sheets so no one will know? He cries out to an absent mom, longing for the comfort that would come from her presence, knowing he will never tell her.

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It’s dark and it’s painful – but abuse of missionary kids is rightly being brought into the light. The loyalty code that makes people hesitant to confront is being replaced by a Godly recognition of sin and the need for confrontation and repentance, the need for justice.

There are some horrific stories – and there are some just plain sad stories, but they can’t heal until they are brought to the light. It’s a warped sense of honor, a twisted allegiance that tells us we need to forgive without confronting and bringing to light that which has wronged or destroyed.

And the thing with light is this: Even a bit can dispel darkness, even a candle illuminates and makes room for us to see more clearly; even a little light can comfort. And God who sees into the silent, sleepy dormitory asks us to speak into the dark, speak truth where lies were planted, offer hope where despair has been rooted, offer comfort in the face of torment.

Because these ones who were hurt have been called out of darkness into His glorious light; a light that dispels darkness and blinds us with its beauty and power. It is glorious to come out of darkness into the light. It never gets old.

Blogger’s note: I wrote this as I do all my posts – with a deep breath and a prayer. The post is not intended to hurt further – rather to offer a word of hope. If you know or suspect that a missionary kid around you is being abused – please in prayer speak up, bring it into the light. We must be people who protect and nurture, who call others into accountability.

Picture Credit: Stefanie Sevim Gardner 2011 Cairo, Egypt

Resources:

  • MK Safety Net – Goal is to be an encouragement and promote healing for current and former MKs (Missionary Kids) and TCKs (Third Culture Kids) and their families who have been hurt or wounded by their experiences of abuse within the missionary environment.
  • Child Safety & Protection – The Alliance Mission is committed to promptly address every reported allegation of child abuse that may arise in association with our work overseas and to provide helpful resources to churches and districts that may deal with such allegations in the United States.
  • International Therapists Directory – provides an increasingly comprehensive online global listing of professional mental health therapists who are familiar with the TCK and international expatriate experiences.
  • Missionary Kids – silent no more on abuse. – An article written in 2011 by the Christian Broadcasting Network
  • Ministry Safe – a site dedicated to sexual abuse awareness and prevention
  • Dear Missionary Parents – While not on abuse, this is an excellent article just published by Michelle Phoenix.

My House Shall Be Called

Photographing weddings got me through college. It also taught me about the Church. Sometimes, your day is spent with really happy people. Sometimes, it’s spent with really stressed out people. Sometimes, the really stressed out people turn into the really happy people.

You get to be around radiant brides, people who dance but really shouldn’t, and people who sing but really can’t. And you get to photograph all.of.it.

You and your camera are invited behind the scenes. You’re paid to capture the excitement, the preparation, the emotion, in pixels and jpegs.

Oh, and there’s usually good food.

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I really like weddings, and I think God does too. In fact, I think God’s planning one.

In his book, The Prodigal God, Tim Keller says, “The climax of history is not a higher form of disembodied consciousness but a feast.” He’s talking, of course, about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, vividly described in Revelation 19:6-8. The Church is the Beloved, the Bride.

During the Last Supper, Jesus pointed to the Great Supper and said, “I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29) Mere hours before his crucifixion, Jesus points us towards that day, the day of his Wedding.

How we think about that day greatly impacts how we live this one. And what we talk about when we talk about the Church (the Bride) has tremendous bearing on missions. If we’re embarrassed by the Church, it’s sure going to be hard to plant it. If we see the Church as optional and only vaguely connected with the Gospel, we’re neglecting something that is very close to the heart of the Father. We’re also ignoring something that enthralls the heart of the Son.

What do we think of when we think of Church? Are we a group of people longing for a party? Are we longing to see our Beloved, face to face?

When we speak of the Church, do we speak of beauty and mystery and the Bride of Christ? Do we speak about God’s Kingdom, here, now, as a great force for good in a desperate world? Or do we speak of something else entirely?

The truth is that the Church is a gloriously magnificent idea straight from the heart of the Father.

The Church is a strong entity that will not lose, even against the full forces of hell itself.

The Church is the Bride of Jesus, stunningly radiant.

The Church carries the priceless message of salvation in Jesus alone, proclaiming that everyone’s invited to the imminent feast.

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But if you’ve been hurt by the Church, by people in the Church, those last few sentences were hard to stomach.

I’m convinced that one of our main obstacles to loving the Church like Jesus loves the Church is that we’ve been hurt within the Church. (And for the record, we’ve probably hurt people too.) Pain from within the Church sours the whole idea and tempts us to run away. It makes us angry at the Church. It makes us ashamed of the Church.

Sometimes the pain comes from rude comments and mean spirits. Sometimes it comes from rejection. Sometimes the pain comes from outright abuse.

This should NOT BE.

If you’ve experienced pain from within the Church, I.Am.So.Sorry.

Please, hear the voice of Jesus, clearly, and with great compassion, as he says, “My House shall be called a house of PRAYER, not a house of PAIN. Those people did NOT represent me. They were thieves and robbers.”

Look at this picture of a loving Bridegroom defending his Bride, and may it be to you a source of solace and comfort and healing. After showing up in Jerusalem to die, “Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves. He said, ‘The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.’” (Matthew 21:12-13)

People are still thieving and robbing in the House of God. They turn a place of prayer into a place of pain. They’re messing with the Bride and ticking off the Groom.

But here’s the thing, Jesus doesn’t just kick out the bad guys and tell everyone to stay away from the Temple. He shows up in the place of pain and turns it into a place of peace and healing.  Right after he expels the “thieves,” we’re told that “The blind and the lame came to him, and he healed them there in the Temple. (Matthew 21:14)

Right there in the Temple! Why would he do that? Because he is passionate about His people, His Bride.

If you’ve been hurt in the Church, may you also find healing in the Church.

May our churches and teams, mission orgs and NGOs, be full of healed people who heal people. May they be full of loved people who love people. May we be so satisfied in Him, so amazed by Him, so filled with joy because of Him, that we are longing for that day as much as He is.

The day of our Wedding is coming, made possible by the passionate pursuit of a dying Savior who didn’t stay dead. Alleluia. Come Lord Jesus. Come for your Bride. 

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What does the idea of the Church as the Bride of Christ mean for you? What do you do with negative experiences within the Church?

College was a long time ago, so these photos are by my friend  Cherish Andrea and used with permission.